Last week the last jail in Oregon to hold immigrant detainees announced it was ending its contract with ICE. www.opb.org/article/2020/08/21/northern-oregon-regional-correctional-facility-norcor-ice/
This is a big win for all the organizations and individuals who supported the three year campaign to end detention of immigrants in this regional jail facility. A local group, Gorge Resistance, held a daily vigil outside the facility. They invited others to join them - AFSC Project Voice-Oregon, Interfaith Movement for Immigrant Justice and the Rural Organizing Project were among the organizations that organized car caravans from various parts of the state to join the daily vigil.
On May 3 2018 I posted a blog about my participation in the vigil in the Dalles outside the NORCOR jail facility. Week after week different groups showed up outside the jail facility asking for the contract with ICE be ended. In the summer of 2018 a walk from the Sheridan federal prison to the Dalles was organized by IMIRJ due to the detention of immigrants at the federal prison that summer.
Persistence pays off. IMIRJ, the Interfaith Movement for Immigrant Justice, issued this litany of thanks last week in recognition of the many people who persisted in challenging the ICE detentions in a local jail:
"Thank you to the courageous men, women, and kin who launched a hunger strike while they were detained in the spring of 2017 to protest the conditions inside and ICE’s family separation machine.
Thank you to others detained since then for your resistance— whether you were there for two days or two years, sent from the private prison in Tacoma as retaliation, or couldn’t see your family because there was no family visitation.
Thank you to the Gorge leaders who have protested, organized, held vigil, and invited the rest of the state to join them to get ICE out of NORCOR.
Thank you to the clergy who visited the men, women, and kin detained week in and week out— who amplified their demands and stories, listened and shared life together in a time when so much life was being taken away.
Thank you to people of faith and fierce love around the state who amplified the stories of those detained in their services and prayers, organized caravans to stand in solidarity in The Dalles, raised money for the high cost of phone calls, made calls to the Board and kept the pressure on, walked in pilgrimage from Sheridan to NORCOR, and joined IMIrJ for our first-ever statewide campaign and action in the spring of 2018. "
I learned from Central Americans in the struggle for justice and equality that it is important to celebrate the wins as well as to grieve over the losses. So let's dance a little this weekend!
My life has been about crossing borders and cultures and building bridges across the boundaries that normally divide. Have you crossed any borders in your life?